Alice Newbold, Vogue
John Lewis joins the likes of Selfridges, Zara and ASOS in its move towards gender-fluid shopping, and is further proof that genderless retail is not about harnessing a trend, but reflecting a cultural shift towards breaking down stereotypes. This summer’s “box pleat rebellion”, when schoolboys in Exeter donned skirts in protest of the rule which forbade male pupils to wear shorts, is further proof that when it comes to kids’ clothing, it’s not about trends, it should always be about choice.
John Lewis has dropped gendered labels from kid’s clothing & some people are angry about it. Erm, why?
Ciara Shepard, Glamour Magazine
In awesome news, John Lewis have got rid of gendered labels from their kid’s clothing own-brand range. Where labels would normally differentiate between genders, theirs simply say “Girls & Boys” or “Boys & Girls.” What’s more is that they’re also removing the sections and replacing it with a general ‘kid’s clothing’ section. We say hear, hear!
We should applaud John Lewis’s bold stance on gender
Jack Torrance for Management Today
John Lewis’s decision to ditch gendered labels on children’s clothes shouldn’t be controversial. The stimuli we encounter when growing up greatly shape our worldview. The more we emphasise the difference between genders, the harder inequality will be to overcome.
By Glosswitch for New Statesman
The most staunch defenders of essential gender differences know their value system would fall apart at the slightest touch.
On one level, the John Lewis gender-neutral clothing backlashis really rather funny. It’s an opportunity for us liberals to poke fun at social conservatives who find themselves, in this instance at least, on the wrong side of history.
Is John Lewis right to remove ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ labels from children’s clothes and make dressing gender-free?
Francesca Cambridge Mallen for The Mirror
A great step forward in equality and progress or a case of political correctness gone mad? Two campaigners give their views
We are so pleased to see a mainstream retailer like John Lewis taking this step. Seeing dinosaur and cool graphics on clothes available to girls, is incredible. It is a responsible move that opens up the choice for kids to dress the way they wish, without a stigma attached. They can be themselves.
Lara Williams at New Scientist
The strict dividing line between clothes for boys and girls is just another way we shape young minds and society for the worse. Good riddance, says Lara Williams.
It is undoubtedly a radical move – clothes have existed as a means of expressing gender for hundreds of years. But it is also a legitimate move, rooted in research that increasingly shows the hardening of unwelcome and damaging stereotypes as a result of relentless gender-based marketing on the young.
Mothercare has altered the wording on its website after a campaign group and parents threatened to boycott the retailer.
Campaign group Let Clothes Be Clothes shared a screenshot of the website on 4 August advertising a boys’ clothing collection with science themes.
The description of the ‘Space Oddity’ range read: “An out of this world collection for boys, filled with stars, planets and science themes.”
“What Jupiter sized rubbish is this Mothercare UK?” the campaign group wrote on Facebook.
Campaign group Let Clothes be Clothes said it was “encouraged” to hear that Clarks had dropped the Dolly Babe shoe.
A spokesperson said: “Hopefully this is just the first step for Clarks towards developing a range for children which gives boys and girls a choice of visually appealling, robust shoes which are kind to developing feet.”
Dad blogger Man vs. Pink shared on Facebook what he says are photos of the book, which says that breasts are multipurpose – not only are they for feeding babies, but also to ‘make girls seem grown-up and attractive’.
Hundreds have slammed the material, claiming that it teaches young boys to ‘objectify women’. The post was also shared by Let Clothes Be Clothes, which fights against UK retailers’ penchant for gender stereotyping.
“Seriously NOT OK Usborne Publishing – irresponsible, offensive and wrong wrong wrong,” the group says on its own Facebook page.
Campaigners are calling for shoppers to boycott Tesco and Mothercare for their use of ‘sexist’ marketing and ‘harmful’ gender stereotypes.
Welcome to the 21st century – a time when genders have never been more equal – until you take a trip to the childrenswear department, that is.
While many children’s clothing providers have made great leaps to avoid using sexism to sell, two retailers have come under fire by campaign group Let Clothes Be Clothes which has called them out for marketing products specifically aimed at boys and girls.
How a sexist T-shirt harms us all by Chitra Ramaswamy, The Guardian
The point is that all of it matters, and all of it is connected. Whether gender stereotyping takes place in an email, on a T-shirt, in a toy shop or at a school, the effects are serious for all of us. And they are far-reaching, with an impact on everything from the gender pay gap and women being under-represented in Stem sectors to widespread sexual bullying in schools.
The Gap ad is not an anomaly: it is the product of the deeply gendered world in which we all live, work and are grossly misrepresented. This kind of gender stereotyping is harmful not only to girls and boys but to women, men and every gender in between. After all, each of us should grow with the possibility of becoming a scientist, a social butterfly, neither or both.”
The Only Girl at Her Science Camp, by Lara N. Dotson-Renta for The New York Times Blog:
Last summer, I dropped her off at “Blast Off” camp at our local arts center, where kids created projects related to science and planets. Out of 10 children with little backpacks and beaming faces, she was the only girl. I smiled at her obvious excitement as I waved goodbye, but worried about the implications of how often the gendering of interests happens in the lives of our children. She may well be the only girl in the room for years to come.
Sexism Aimed at Children: Why Its Time to Let Clothes Be Clothes by Francesca Cambridge Mallen for The Huffington Post Blog:
Until I became a parent eight years ago, I didn’t give gendered clothing much thought and bought my daughter clothes from across the boys and girls sections; even selecting the pink options unquestioning as to whether she wanted that colour or not. I could ignore the FOR GIRLS or FOR BOYS signs, but started to notice other people couldn’t – including my daughter.
Before she could read, my child had a strong sense of gender based on the same stereotypes we encountered on the high street, from clothing and toys, to cards and pull-ups. Whatever stereotypes our society is guilty of, they are reinforced exponentially by a consumer culture that puts all its faith in gender marketing.
‘Scarlett started saying things like, “I can’t have that, that’s for boys”. This is something that hasn’t come from us as her parents.
‘When we go shopping, we tell her to look in both girls’ and boys’ sections, but that’s not the answer to the problem. As a campaign we urge parents to feedback to retailers and say, “I love this product, but why did my boy have to buy it from the girls’ section”‘
‘There’s a whole team of people running the campaign. One member has met with designers from Tesco, Mothercare and John Lewis.
‘We’ve had some successes, but it is clear retailers need to go straight back to the drawing board, right back to how their teams are set up as boyswear or girlswear. Even parties that announce a baby’s gender in pink or blue themes show how deeply rooted this commercial obsession with gender goes.’
Southern Daily Echo
“The two families are among a growing number of people who reject gender labels that they feel restrict their children’s freedom, and let them play and experiment, whether that means dressing up as Spiderman or a princess, with groups like Let Toys Be Toys and Let Clothes Be Clothes actively campaigning for gender neutral items for children.”
The Irish Times
“My princess T-shirt fatwa comes from a place of good intent: I played ordinary, common or garden, Lego when I was a child”
Sometimes it seems as though the media is over-saturated with talk of gender constructs and fluidity and stereotypes and then other times it seems as though none of it is getting through.
Let Clothes Be Clothes and Let Toys Be Toys are two organisations that keep a vigilant eye on all of this sort of thing.
The Washington Post
“Change is slow, however. Cultural shifts happen in stages, not overnight — hence the pushback. It’s an interesting culture war to watch: In the future, gender stereotyping could indeed be rolled back even further, into areas such as the clothing department. Recent efforts to break down stereotypes in children’s clothing have included the work of grassroots organization Let Clothes Be Clothes, which calls for an end to the gender stereotypes found in the design and marketing of kids’ clothing…”
The Mail Online
- Labour MP accuse Natural History Museum and M&S of ‘sexism’
- Chi Onwurah said companies are guilty of ‘gender-specific marketing’
- Said dinosaur t-shirts aimed at boys is excluding girls from science
“Yesterday Miss Onwurah wrote on Twitter: ‘If you’re in London next Monday help tell the dinosaurs in @NHM_London girls want a share in science too #hearusroar”
“It does feel like we’re on the verge of a turning point in gender clothing,” said Ruth Lopardo, co-founder of Let Clothes Be Clothes, which criticised Marks & Spencer last month for marketing a series of Natural History Museum dinosaur-themed T-shirts and pyjamas made only for boys.
“We’re at an overwhelming point at the moment, where many gender-neutral things like sandpits can only be bought in pink or blue. But consumers are getting wise to what is simply a blatant tactic to force them to buy unnecessary items, and wise manufacturers are finally waking up to the fact that frustrated consumers can simply use the internet to buy toys from independent manufacturers who care about these things, or from Scandinavian countries where all colours are gender-neutral when it comes to children.”
Independent on Sunday
It’s only a year since M&S bowed to consumer pressure and agreed to stop segregating toys by gender, and already they’re trying to put children back in blue and pink boxes.
This is important because children want to fit in, particularly when it comes to perceived gender roles. And because asking a five-year-old to play in high heels and a crop top is just mean. Many shops do it, however, because if brothers and sisters can’t share, then parents have to buy twice as many clothes.
London Evening Standard
Marks & Spencer’s range of children’s clothing inspired by dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum has been criticised because it is marketed as for boys. It does seem odd that when dinosaurs have universal appeal, pyjamas with a T-rex motif can’t be marketed simply to “children”. After all, the newest dinosaur in the NHM’s collection is in fact called Sophie.
Francesca Cambridge, who co-founded the campaign and complained to the retailer and museum, said enforcing gender stereotypes places limitations on girls and boys, at a time when more girls are being encouraged to study science and maths.
”We have a situation where a national museum and a national retailer are trying to get children interested in science and history but are excluding girls. It’s a really sad message.
”It’s classic gender stereotyping – that boys like rough and tumble and nature but girls don’t. It’s detrimental to the development of both boys and girls who are being told what they should be interested in. At what age do they think it is OK for girls to start showing an interest in these type of things? I’m really disappointed.”